Chapter 8 — Janaka Hears the Songs of the Holy Masters (Siddhas)

Vasishta continued:—

There lives the mighty King of Videha, Janaka by name, who is blessed with all prosperity and unbounded understanding. He is like the ever fruitful wish-fulfilling tree to the host of his suitors, and like the vivifying sun to his lotus-like friends. He is like the genial spring to the small flowers of his relatives, and like Kama the god of love to females. Like the changing moon, he gives delight to the twice born brahmins, as that luminary makes lilies bloom. Like the bright sun he destroys the darkness of his gloomy enemies. He is an ocean of gems of goodness to all and the support of his kingdom, like Vishnu the supporter of the world.

One spring evening Janaka happened to wander about a forest abounding in young vines with bunches of crimson blossoms on them, resonant with the melody of sweet sounding kokila nightingales warbling their tuneful choirs. He walked among flowery pleasure gardens resembling graceful beauties with ornaments upon them, and sported in their covered shelter as the god Indra sports in his Nandana pleasure garden. Leaving his attendants behind him, he stepped into a grove standing on the plain of a hill in the midst of that romantic forest, which was smelling with the fragrance of flowers borne all about by playful winds.

In one place within a covered shelter of tamara trees, he heard a mingled voice like that of some invisible aerial spirit masters (siddhas). I will now recite to you, O lotus-eyed Rama, the songs of the spiritual masters (siddhas) living in the retired solitudes of mountainous regions and dwelling in the caverns of hills. The songs relate principally to their spiritual meditations.

The masters sang, “We adore that Being which is neither the subjective nor objective, and which in our belief is the positive joy that rises in our souls and has no fluctuation in it.”

10 Others chanted, “We adore that Being which is beyond the triple states of the subject, its attribute and its object. It is the spiritual light of the soul which exists from before the light of vision, and which is derived from the light of the sun.”

11 Others chanted, “We adore that Being which is in the midst of all that is and what is not.”

12 Some sang, “We adore that real Existence which is all, who owns all things, by whom all is made, from whom all has sprung, for whom they exist, in whom they exist, to whom do all returns, and into which they are all absorbed.”

13 Some sang, “We adore that Spirit which begins with the letter ‘a’ and ends in ‘h’ with the dot ‘m’ and which we continually inspire and respire in our breathings (aham hansah, “I am He.”).”

14 Others said, “Those who forsake the Lord situated within the cavity of their hearts and resort to others outside are truly in search of trifles by ignoring the wish-fulfilling gem (kaustabha) they have in their hands.”

15 Others again declared, “By forsaking all other desires, one obtains this object of his wish. This being had, the poisonous plants of all other desires are entirely uprooted from the heart.”

16 Some of them pronounced saying, “The foolish man who knows the tastelessness of all worldly things, but still attaches his mind to earthly objects, is an ass and not any human being.”

17 Others said, “The sensual desires that constantly rise like snakes from the cavities of the body are to be killed by the cudgel of reason, as Indra broke the hills by his thunderbolts.”

18 At last they said, “Let men try to secure the pure happiness of stillness which serves to give tranquility to the minds of the righteous. The sober-minded who are situated in their real and natural temperament have their best rest in the lap of undisturbed and everlasting tranquility.”